Fans of beloved Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire are flooding into a Melbourne cathedral to say their final goodbyes.
The doors of St Patrick’s Cathedral have been thrown open ahead of the state funeral due to begin in a matter of minutes.
Father Bob will be remembered as an unconventional leader of the Catholic Church at a time when it was largely unpopular to be.
“He spread his message of kindness on Triple J, took to the street to protest and was never afraid to pick up the phone and argue for what was right,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said after news broke of Father Bob’s death on April 19.
Father Bob Maguire is being honoured with a state funeral in Melbourne after he died at age 88. Picture: Instagram
“Our state is a kinder, fairer place because of Father Bob. And we’ll miss you greatly, comrade.”
Heartfelt tributes poured in from across the country after the 88-year-old’s death.
Tributes to the beloved priest
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
“We have lost a great Australian,” Mr Albanese wrote on social media.
“An irrepressibly cheerful champion for all those battling disadvantage, he dedicated his life to brightening the lives of those most in need.
“A man of warmth and faith who faced struggles with a cheeky grin.”
Crowds are arriving at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Picture Asanka Ratnayake/Getty ImagesThe casket of Father Bob Maguire is positioned at the front of the alter. Picture: Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images
- John Safran, former Triple J radio host
The radio host shared the microphone with Father Bob for a decade for a weekly show about religion and ethics on the youth broadcaster.
“What was Father Bob like privately? Somehow kinder and funnier than he was publicly,” Mr Safran said in a statement shared to social media.
“More than being kind in broad brushstrokes, he was kind in small ways.
“When an elderly congregant couldn’t catch the Collingwood matches, he organised tapes from Channel 7 that he would slip to her, along with the Eucharist wafer, during communion.”
Sunday Night Safran ran from 2005 to 2015.
The beloved priest (middle) with Government Services and NDIS Minister Bill Shorten and The Salvation Army commanding officer Brendan Nottle. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling
- Kon Karapanagiotidis, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre founder
“Vale Father Bob,” the lawyer and author wrote to Twitter.
“A beautiful man who dedicated his life to serving marginalised communities and was always the first to offer his support to the ASRC in times of need to help refugees.
- Eddie McGuire, TV presenter and AFL commentator
The former host of long-running trivia game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire first met Father Bob when Magurie was 13.
“I loved him dearly. He was a great man,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne of the man who served as chaplain at his Catholic high school.
He later discovered Father Bob funded the scholarship that allowed him to attend the school.
Politicians, radio hosts and media personalities have shared heartfelt tributes. Picture: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images
What will Father Bob be remembered for?
A life of service was front of mind for Father Bob from the age of 25 when he was ordained as a Catholic priest.
He served as parish priest at St Peter & Paul’s Catholic Church in South Melbourne from 1973 until his forced retirement at age 77 in 2012.
Father Bob earnt himself a reputation for breaking from the stiff traditions of the religious institution, shocking many with his uncanny ability to move with the times.
While discussing how religious groups can keep young people engaged at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, he gave a one word answer: “Twitter”.
The beloved priest kept in touch with his more than 125,000 followers on the social media platform right up to his final days.
He was appointed Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 and was Victorian of Year in 2011.
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